Tabb time arrives

If you're looking to pick a "Player to Watch for 2009" on Tennessee's basketball team you just might tab Josh Tabb.

Because his game is more workmanlike than flashy, Josh Tabb rarely works his way into headlines and conversations about the future of Vol hoops. He has made significant strides in recent weeks, however, working his way into the starting lineup in the process.

In addition to starting at small forward the past four games, the 6-4, 196-pound junior from Carbondale, Ill., fills the valuable role of backup point guard. His ball security (20 assists, just 8 turnovers) is a real plus as he continues adjusting to playing lead guard at the collegiate level.

"I'm doing good," he said this week. "It's something I've been playing for a while – prep school and high school – but it's my first year playing it here. I was recruited as a point guard but I moved over to the 2 (shooting guard). I think I'm doing fine."

Tabb came to Tennessee with the reputation as a defensive stopper, and he has done nothing to alter that perception. He needed improvement in other areas, however, and he has worked hard to fine-tune his overall game.

With high-scoring guards Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith out of eligibility, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl needed the returning Vols to pick up the slack this season. Tabb, who scored just 36 points as a sophomore in 2007-08, is trying to accommodate. He registered 10 points against UNC Asheville in Game 7 and added 9 more Monday night in an 89-62 Game 11 defeat of Louisiana.

"I've always had an offensive game but it's something I needed to show a little more," Tabb explained. "We lost two good scorers from last year's team, so Coach needs me and the other upperclassmen to step it up a little on offense."

Tabb seems reluctant to shoot, even though he is hitting a sizzling 61.7 percent (17 of 28) from the field and 44.4 percent (4 of 9) from beyond the arc. His season high for field-goal attempts is five. He was 4 of 4 against Louisiana, including 1 of 1 from 3.

"Josh continues to get more and more comfortable, more and more aggressive," Pearl said. "I think it's a comfort factor for Josh."


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